Top considerations for digital matrix switchers

Written 2013-04-26 by Herman_Digi

As we approach the analog sunset and the transition to pure digital designs using HDMI and DVI, the need to route and manage all of these devices within a design can be a challenge.  In some cases you are trying to convert one signal type into another or just give devices the ability to carry signals over a longer distance.  Moving to digital also provides the opportunity to use fiber optic cables for those long distance runs while maintaining a high quality signal.  Integrating Cat 5/6 and high speed Ethernet adds to the mix when planning the use of a digital matrix switcher.

The top consideration is future expansion.

Digital Matrix switchers allow for the addition of more inputs and outputs than analog systems, but considerations need to be made for its footprint in rack and cooling requirements.  For example, the Gefen 4×2 for HDMI offers the flexibility of four sources and two displays.The high density of connectors can present an issue if consumer grade cables are used.  Establishing a standard for commercial cables will avoid problems with oversized plugs.  As more devices take advantage of the HDMI standard, the use of locking HDMI connectors may offer more reliable connections as cables might appear to be plugged in but not seated properly.  Planning for cable support with dense matrix will avoid the damage that come from added weight and strain of so many cables into one switcher.  Cables will last longer and connections will be more reliable for the long term.  If expansion is expected, installing simple tray can be a low cost way to prevent problems down the road.

Knowing Your Devices’ Secret Handshakes: EDID and Display ID.

EDID is Extended Display Identification Data.  It allows a digital display to communicate to peripherals and provide its capabilities to a source.  The EDID provides important data such as display size, luminance, pixel mapping along with manufacturer information such as product type and serial number.  Some HDMI connections require this handshake even if the video source is connected via VGA. If the handshake is missing, the image will not display at all.

The Magic Touch: KVM

KVM or Keyboard, video and mouse can be plugged into some matrix devices.  This allows a single user to control multiple computers from the one KVM set-up.  The user can easily switch from one virtual terminal to another without setting up more than one keyboard saving space and hassles. Herman carries a range of KVM switches and accessories.